Blake HowardComment

"Ant-man and The Wasp" (2018) Review

Blake HowardComment
"Ant-man and The Wasp" (2018) Review

One of the best film critics working today Walter Chaw (@mangiotto on Twitter) wrote a tweet after the release of “Ant-Man and The Wasp”:

Since Mr Chaw's tweet, the release of the film, and repeated encounters with folks smitten with this quaint, low stakes, messy haired cousin of the Marvel superhero genre; I've attempted to wrangle a take. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (Ant-Man 2 from now on) succeeds in bringing the first Marvel Cinematic Universe partnership that gives crime-fighting duo equal billing. It is also has the runner up honours to feature Michelle Pfieffer entering the second film in a superhero franchise. These are merely extras. Ant-Man 2 has a single function; to provide a distraction for the universe-altering events “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Why more Ant-Man? Well if you didn’t stick around for the mid-credits of Marvel Studios “Ant-Man” in 2015, you missed the crucial scene of the movie. It's one of the rare Marvel post-credits scenes that overshadowed the film that preceded it. Michael Douglas' Dr Hank Pym shows his daughter Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne a prototype suit designed for her mother Janet van Dyne (now played by the incredible Michelle Pfeiffer). It’s only a prototype, but the golden-winged outfit looks magnificent. Pym says it feels like the suit was destined to be hers. Without skipping a beat, Hope responds, “It’s about damned time.”

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After a hop, skip and a time jump Paul Rudd's Scott Lang is grappling with life under house arrest after the super-sized shenanigans in Berlin and being busted out of Raft underwater prison by Chris Evans' Captain America in “Civil War”. With days left to serve for his freedom, Hope and Pym approach him with an urgent mission against a powerful new enemy; Scott must once again don the Ant-Man suit. The twist this time is that he must join forces with The Wasp to take down ‘quantum realm’ obsessed villain Ghost (played by Hannah John-Kamen).

Rudd is comfortable as the hapless Scott, the butt of all jokes. He’s ok with admitting he “messes up” the superhero gig “all the time.” Enter the ‘Good Scott, Bad Wasp’ routine, going high and low (Wasp high — because she has wings - I hate myself way less than you'd think for that pun). Their comedic chemistry works. Lilly brings uncaged energy that we've been looking forward to as well as attempting to unlock emotion in this thread of the Marvel monopoly by exploring the longing for her lost mother.

There are elements of the film that have a pulse. A super baton passes when Scott and Hope unite to fight the forces of evil; that's two power duos for the price of one. This kind of baton pass had usually been reserved for comics.

Director Peyton Reed gets a second chance at the franchise and the opportunity to make a film end-to-end rather than assembling the shattered pieces of Edgar Wright's shock exit. The tragedy is that despite the addition of the incredible Dante Spinotti as the cinematographer, it remains as ugly as my foggy memory of the original film. The expansion of the series means more money to pay to accommodate a growing writers room (now up to four screenwriters Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer and Rudd). The story orchestrates a collective of contrived hurdles that only manage to register as a challenge in their collective weight. Scott's crew are relegated to the sideline, including the best character of the first film Michael Pena's Luis. Pym's storyline expands in perfunctory fashion. Another Marvel genius has a competitive nemesis who lacks ethics and morality and will stop at nothing to get the competitive edge.

Chaw may be right. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is beige; but (in the words of Australian comic Billy Birmingham as beloved cricket commentator Richie Benaud), it's also cream, bone, off-white and perhaps ivory.

★★

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BLAKE HOWARD IS A FILM CRITIC & THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/CO-FOUNDER OF AUSTRALIAN FILM BLOG GRAFFITI WITH PUNCTUATION . BLAKE IS THE HOST OF THE ONE HEAT MINUTE PODCAST. BLAKE IS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS ONLINE FILM CRITIC SOCIETY (AND A MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING COMMITTEE), IS A CO-HOST OF GAGGLE OF GEEKS ON SYDNEY'S 2SER COMMUNITY RADIO, A COLUMNIST AT THE AUSTRALIAN ONLINE INSTITUTION DARK HORIZONS AND SWAYS THE TOMATO METER WITH ROTTEN TOMATOES APPROVED REVIEWS.